Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

PhD for strawberry breakthrough

Emma Brown, who proved the cancer fighting potential of strawberries, will be awarded a PhD at the University of Ulster

An academic who proved the cancer fighting potential of strawberries will be awarded a PhD at the University of Ulster's first graduation ceremony of the summer.

Emma Brown spent the past three years researching how eating soft fruit may offer protection against colon cancer.

Ms Brown, who won a UK Young Scientist of the Year award in 2006, conducted research into the biomedical potential of four kinds of fruit: raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and lingonberries - an unusual berry most often found in Scandinavia.

Using a new technique, she exposed human tumour cells at various stages of cancer development to the digested juice and pulp of the four berry types.

Using digested material meant the cells were reacting to exactly the kind of material that colonic cancer cells in the human gut would encounter.

"My research found three main positive effects," said Ms Brown, who will receive her doctorate at the ceremony in Coleraine.

"The berries slowed the rate of replication of the cancer cells, offered protection against DNA damage, and showed anti-invasive effects."

The academic, who is originally from Durham but lives in Belfast, now works in the biomedical research laboratories in the Northern Ireland Centre for Diet and Health at Coleraine and is continuing her food-related research at the University of Ulster.

She is now examining the potential of marine bioactives (special seaweed) to give protection against colon cancer.

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